(ORDO NEWS) — The 40,000-year-old rock paintings attest to the use of sophisticated astronomy. Ancient drawings that were previously thought to be symbols of prehistoric animals are ancient star charts, experts have recently discovered.
“Early cave art shows that humans had advanced knowledge of the night sky during the last ice age.”
A scientific study has shown that humans had sophisticated knowledge of the stars and constellations over 40,000 years ago. Scientists have found that ancient people kept track of time by watching the stars change their position in the sky.
As previously thought, the ancient works of art found in many places in Europe are simple images of wild animals. However, the animal symbols instead represent constellations of stars in the night sky.
They represent dates by marking events such as asteroid impacts, explains a new study published by the University of Edinburgh.
Scientists suggest that ancient people were well aware of the effect caused by the gradual change in the Earth‘s axis of rotation.
The discovery of this phenomenon, called the precession of the equinoxes, was previously attributed to the ancient Greeks.
“These findings support the theory of multiple cometary impacts throughout human development and may revolutionize the study of prehistoric populations.”
Scientists have determined the age of the cave art by chemically dating the paints used by ancient people.
Then, using computer programs, the scientists predicted the positions of the stars at the time the paints were made.
This showed that what were previously thought to be abstract images of animals could be interpreted as constellations as they looked in the distant past.
Scientists have come to the conclusion that these incredible rock paintings show that ancient people practiced a complex method of timekeeping based on astronomical calculations, despite the fact that the rock paintings are separated in time by tens of thousands of years.
“The world’s oldest sculpture, the Lion Man from the Hohlenstein Stadel cave dating back to 38,000 BC, has also been found to be consistent with this ancient timekeeping system,” the University of Edinburgh said in a statement.
It is believed that the mysterious figurine is dedicated to the catastrophic asteroid impact that occurred about 11,000 years ago and marked the beginning of the so-called Younger Dryad event – a period of sharp cooling of the climate.
“The date carved on the figurine is interpreted as 10,950 years BC, with an accuracy of 250 years,” the scientists explain in their study.
“This date is written using the precession of the equinoxes, and the animal symbols represent the star constellations corresponding to the four solstices and equinoxes of this year.”
“Intellectually, these ancient people were no different from us today,” says Dr Martin Sweetman of the University of Edinburgh.
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